Suicide bombing at Kabul airport kills 13 US soldiers, 90 Afghan civilians
08/27/2021 // Mary Villareal // Views

Thirteen members of the U.S. troops and at least 90 Afghans have been killed in two suicide bomb attacks at Kabul Airport just hours before the evacuation deadline.

Thousands of people have gathered at the Kabul Airport over the past 12 days, hoping to be evacuated out of Afghanistan after the Taliban seized power. Thirteen U.S. service members -- 12 Marines and one Navy medic were killed in the explosions, while 15 others were injured.

At least 90 Afghans were also killed and 140 more were hurt in the attacks.

Other blasts were also heard in Kabul in the hours after. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks, sharing a photo of one of the suicide bombers online. A U.S. official also confirmed that the first blast was caused by a suicide bomb, while initial reports suggested that the second explosion was a car bomb.

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said one explosion occurred near buses lined up outside Abbey Gate, while the other is close to the nearby Baron Hotel.

A source said that the attacks in Kabul might be an "ongoing event" with more to come and American forces in Afghanistan are now braced for more violence.

One of the bombers reportedly hit people standing in a wastewater canal and sent bodies flying into the water upon explosion.

President Biden said on Thursday evening that he was heartbroken by the violence and vowed to retaliate for the attacks. He also promised to continue evacuation efforts.

"We will hunt you down and make you pay," Biden said in his remarks at the White House. He also instructed national security advisers to develop response plans to the attacks. (Related: Violence continues in Afghanistan as thousands of American civilians await evacuation while Biden fiddles.)


U.S. continues evacuation

Marine Corps General Kenneth McKenzie told reporters that the U.S. planned to continue its evacuation of U.S. citizens and allies in the wake of the events. The U.S. had evacuated about 100,000 people since August 14, the day before the Taliban took Kabul. There are still about 1,000 Americans remaining that need to be evacuated.

McKenzie said that the U.S. would continue to coordinate with the Taliban on security outside the airport gates and share information with the militant group. He also said that the group's fighter had been searching individuals en route to the airport but did not know how a suicide bomber could get through the checkpoints.

“If we can find who is associated with this, we will go after them,” he said.

Deadliest combat fatalities since 2011

The American deaths on Thursday were the first military combat fatalities in Afghanistan since February 2020. With 13 troops killed, it is also the deadliest since August 2011, when militants shot down a Chinook helicopter, killing 31 Americans and seven Afghans, as well as a military dog.

The deaths were the kind of military loss Biden reportedly said he was trying to avoid by ending the 20-year war with the country. The president acted against the advice of his generals by deciding to withdraw the American troops from a war that he no longer believed was in the best interest of the United States or its allies.

However, the rapid takeover by the Taliban caught the administration off-guard and set in motion an evacuation in which 6,000 troops attempted to secure the Kabul Airport against the Taliban and terror groups.

At the time of the attack, the airport gates were packed with thousands of Afghans seeking entry, in defiance of earlier warnings from Western governments of an imminent attack by the Islamic State's regional offshoot.

The attacks came after several American allies said they were halting evacuation flights from Afghanistan, leaving citizens and thousands of Afghans who were cleared for entry. Airlift opportunities disappeared amidst warnings of an imminent terrorist attack as the U.S. began winding down operations in Kabul ahead of the August 31 withdrawal deadline.

It remains unclear whether a military response of any kind is in the works or if the U.S. troops on the ground can strike back while securing the airport for more evacuations.

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